ALLBLK's Scripted Content Is on the Rise

By AMC Networks InSites Archives
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A variety of content remains a key element of ALLBLK's existence, 13 months after AMC Networks relaunched the subscription video-on-demand venture formerly known as Urban Movie Channel. What's especially notable here is that ALLBLK has doubled down on the quantity and variety of scripted series available for its African American audience, with at least four new series joining the schedule last year, and at least two more announced to premiere this year. All this as ALLBLK, which AMC Networks acquired from Black Entertainment Television founder Robert Johnson's entertainment organization in 2018, continues to feature classic and independently made motion pictures, unscripted TV series, videos of stage plays and more.

"In 2020, ALLBLK (which at the time was still known as UMC) released a new original series nearly every month -- an incredible feat considering we accomplished this during what was then the beginning of the ongoing pandemic," said Nikki Love (pictured below), Senior Vice President, Production and Development at AMC, who oversees original content for ALLBLK. "Several of these releases, such as For the Love of Jason (a relationship dramedy), Double Cross (an action-drama), and Terror Lake Drive (an anthology thriller), are now entering second and third seasons -- proving that our focus on offering a diverse content mix is working. Our subscribers want more, and we're committed to providing just that."

Customers pay $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year to watch ALLBLK commercial-free. The service is distributed over most smart TV sets and devices, along with Comcast, Charter, Cox and other multichannel operators. For the third quarter of 2021 (ending September 30), subscription revenues from ALLBLK and AMC's other direct-to-consumer services, including Shudder and Acorn TV, increased 14 percent from the same quarterly period in 2020. (AMC Networks, which will release its latest quarterly operating results later this month, does not break out individual subscriber and revenue totals for its direct-to-consumer services.)

Matt Blank, AMC Networks' interim Chief Executive Officer, pointed out through a press release on the third quarter 2021 results that together, ALLBLK and company are "on track to deliver our year-end streaming target to achieve nine million paid subscribers.

"We are building a streaming business that is sustainable and will be profitable over the long term," Blank added.

A House Divided, now two months into its fourth season, is ALLBLK's long-running scripted original. Taking a cue from Dallas, Falcon Crest and other soap-opera style dramas about the foibles of wealthy families, the series deals with the wealthy descendants of a slave in Los Angeles and the power struggle that ensues over the family business, Birthright Bank. Entering season three this month is Double Cross, a fraternal twin sibling mystery yarn that explores the world of human trafficking from different angles as seasons progress.

"I think part of what has made shows like A House Divided and Double Cross so successful over so many seasons is the combination of the vivid imaginations of their creators -- in these instances Dan Garcia and Christel Gibson -- with the amazing talent that brings their imaginations to life," Love said. "Our programming continues to showcase how valuable a service like this is. We're providing opportunities for talent that Hollywood hasn't historically given greenlights to. As a result, not only do we have Daytime Emmy nominated dramas and breakout hit series to tout, but more importantly we get to amplify and elevate new voices whose stories deserve to be told, to a growing number of ALLBLK subscribers who are anxious to hear them."

Other originals include:

Craig Ross Jr.'s Monogamy, a drama exploring traditional and untraditional relationships. Overseen by the husband-and-wife team of Craig Ross Jr. and Caryn Ward Ross.

Covenant, in which classic Bible stories get modernized in a weekly anthology format. Creator Kaye Singleton describes the series as "Black Mirror meets Watchmen with Bible roots."

Partners in Rhyme, a sitcom focused on a hip-hop legend as she guides her starry-eyed niece to music industry success, with popular hip-hop performer MC Lyte leading the cast.

Terror Lake Drive, offering a different story of suspense inside a lakeside apartment complex each season.

For 2022, ALLBLK gave the production greenlight toA La Carte, a dramedy unfolding around the Black millennial dating scene, and Send Help, involving a Haitian American's struggle to come of age and land success in Hollywood.

The service will join AMC and AMC+ April 10 in launching 61st Street, AMC's long-awaited depiction of Chicago's criminal justice system, co-produced by Michael B. Jordan's Outlier Society and starring Emmy Award-winning actor Courtney B. Vance. ALLBLK and AMC+ will present the first two episodes together with AMC, then run the remaining episodes a week ahead of their Sunday night AMC presentation.

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